Dan Baldwin 2014-01-16 05:57:37
An Organic, No-Preservatives-Added Practice “We decided that we wanted to practice law the way our clients want us to practice law,” says Byron L. Ames of Ames & Ames, LLP of Las Vegas and Park City. “Be their advocate in the law, but also look out for them. If things need to be done for them, do those things. If they don’t need to be done, and the only justification for doing them is just so I can get more billing and that’s the only reason to do it – then don’t do it. Don’t pad the bills. Don’t add extra things that don’t need to be there that only benefit me. Our duty is to provide value and benefit to our clients,” he says. Ames and Tera K. Andrews Ames are a husband and wife team managing the firm with Byron Ames’ father, Walter L. Ames serving as of counsel. The team expresses an organic “no preservatives added” philosophy: “There are no secret added fees, no padded bills and no unnecessary fillers.” Ames & Ames opened their doors the first of August. “The three of us just felt the timing was right, the stars had aligned, and it was time to put our expertise together and go forward and offer a dream team of lawyers for our clients,” Ames says. “We opened offices in Park City and Las Vegas and we haven’t looked back.” Partners in Business and Partners in Life Byron and Tera Ames earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in anthropology from Brigham Young University in 1998. They also studied anthropology at Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, England and earned their Juris Doctor degrees from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2001. Higher education was an extra challenge for the couple. Both were seeking law degrees and required acceptance at the same school and Gonzaga University provided the best answer. Ames says, “It was great going to school together. We were able to lean on each other for support and we both understood what the other was going through. It’s unique having two attorneys in our immediate family. We both approach the law differently. I learn a lot watching Tera in the courtroom or interacting with clients. She’s really good at what she does. I think she’s the better attorney in the law firm,” Ames says. He says their business partnership makes for very interesting conversation around the family’s dinner table. “Our children listen in to us discussing things and sometimes find themselves asking, ‘Is this an argument or a discussion?’ We have very different viewpoints on things politically, but as far as our practice areas, we complement each other.” He adds, “Our law practice areas overlap to some degree, but we have very different skill sets so working together as partners works out great because of what we can offer our clients. It rounds out what we can provide as far as legal expertise to clients.” A Focus on the Client’s Needs Beyond the usual entrepreneurial drive, Ames had other reasons for starting his own firm. He explains that he found his work for other law firms frustrating. There were personal agendas for the firms’ leadership that were not in balance with his personal standards, so he decided to build a firm that lived and breathed by a philosophy of the client being the most important element. According to Ames, a lot of firms say that, but some have partners who put their names and time on a legal bill just so they seem relevant to the client. He knows that the attorneys in some firms pad the bills or they drag out the litigation as long as they possibly can to maximize the billing. “None of that is in the best interest of the client and behavior like that offends me,” he says. Ames & Ames’ first priority is their clients. A client may call at 2 o’clock in the morning with a problem. Regardless of the hour, according to Ames, clients often need someone who can pull together a team of appropriate experts instantly. Ames says, “They need someone who can have all these people on call at 2 o’clock in the morning and can say, ‘We’ll be there in 15 minutes.’ And we do that.” Trucking and Hospitality Ames stresses the need for experience in hospitality and transportation cases. He says, “Someone looking for an attorney for assistance on a legal matter needs someone who understands all the angles that affect any given litigated or non-litigated matter. Any one matter can implicate issues such as premises liability, the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance or OSHA. You can have employment issues. You can have workers’ compensation issues, franchise issues, food issues, contract issues or government issues. Depending on the relationships of the people involved, it can be quite complicated. There are all these angles.” According to Ames, attorneys must not only understand these different elements, but also how those elements relate to each other. It is surprisingly easy to miss a major issue that could end up hanging the client because the attorney doesn’t know all of the different legal issues that must be addressed in any legal matter. “The thing that’s probably nearest and dearest to my heart is our transportation practice,” Ames says. The firm’s clients include businesses in trucking, busing, automobile dealerships and towing companies, although the main focus is generally commercial trucking. “Trucking works for me because I fell in love with trucks as a kid watching the movie ‘Convoy’ with Kris Kristofferson,” he says. Ames has always had an affinity for truckers and when the opportunity came up to get into some of the industry organizations such as the Trucking Industry Defense Association and Transportation Lawyers Association, he took them. Such memberships allow Ames to specialize by focusing and investing the time to get to know an industry he loves. “There is something magical about truckers. My dad always told me as a kid that truckers are the heroes of the highway. These guys are the knights in armor. If you’re stranded out in the desert on the highway the truckers will stop to help you. They’re consummate professionals,” Ames says. Ames is quick to note that even what may appear to be a minor transportation case can have national or international ramifications. Ames & Ames has a case pending before the United States Supreme Court on a very discrete and technical cargo issue regarding state interpretation of the Carmack Amendment, which is a federal law. An apparently minor incident occurring on a back road in Washington and litigated in Nevada could have an impact on how trucking companies do business across the country. Ames recently handled a Las Vegas case that had an impact in Sri Lanka. Another case had implications in Japan. The work of this local firm has an impact across the globe. “We have that global experience. We have all lived and worked across the globe. We have that ability to understand cultural differences that impact how things need to be resolved. There needs to be sensitivity to other cultures. We really understand that . S ometimes people just need to hear it in a different way for things to be resolved and you have to be able to catch that,” Ames says. One of the trends the firm’s hospitality clients are facing is an increase in ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) claims made against hotel and resort entities. While some of the claims are legitimate, sometimes they are simply money-making schemes by purported nonprofit organizations attempting to obtain money for the organization’s members. They’ll have one of their members stay at the hotel to give them standing, so that they can file their lawsuit under the ADA. There are a lot of older properties facing challenges as they try to update their properties so they conform to the law. It’s cost prohibitive to just go through and rebuild an entire property and to make everything compliant with current building codes, but that’s not what the law requires. If it’s an older property, as the owner makes modifications to the property, those changes may or may not be impacted by the ADA. Ames says, “I think a big challenge for some of these hotels and resorts is trying to address smart updates and renovations to their properties to eliminate exposure to ADA lawsuits and to also provide the proper facilities for guests, while maintaining profitability. That’s the big challenge, particularly for older properties, and there are a lot of older hotels out there that are faced with this.” Ames & Ames is pleased to be open for business. While family dinners become debates over client issues and 2 a.m. phone calls will keep them busy, Byron and Tera Ames are looking forward to representing their clients under their own terms – honest and committed.
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